Creating Raving Fans with Your Conference Schedule

I read a great blog article a couple weeks ago addressing how a lot of conferences and conventions still aren’t getting it quite right when it comes to scheduling.

At the London Convention Centre our tag line is CONNECT, SHARE, PLAY. These are three key elements that we hope to help facilitate for every group that comes into our building.

As a convention centre we believe we should be a place where people can come and connect with each other; building and strengthening relationships. We believe that we should be an environment where people can share knowledge, ideas, stories, and experiences.  We further believe that people should have fun here while they connect and share.

What do you think? Do you hope to Connect, Share and Play when you go to a conference? If you’re an organizer, do you hope that your guests will connect, share and play?

These notions of Connecting, Sharing and Playing are arguably fundamental concepts when it comes to conferences and conventions. Sometimes though the fundamentals become so incredibly second nature that we lose focus of them and they ultimately get overlooked.

At times it seems we forget about the old saying that less is more. We plan conferences to pack in as much as possible to maximize what guests will take away.  Speakers and sessions are added or extended at the cost of ‘free time’.  Lunches can be cut back from an hour to 30 minutes; or from 30 minutes to 20 minutes.  Breaks between sessions can be cut from 20 minutes to 10 or maybe even 5 minutes.

Delegates are occasionally left with next to no time to scarf down food, grab a coffee, spend time in the alarming large line to the bathroom and study the schedule to figure out where they are going next.

While it can seem great to have a non-stop schedule of top notch speakers and sessions, you might be doing some of your delegates a disservice. “White space” during a conference is important. It provides attendees with time to digest everything that they’ve heard.  It offers them opportunities to connect with others to build relationships or to share and further explore the topics being discussed.

 It is not to say that a full schedule will not provide a great deal to conference attendees, because it will. Delegates will even likely leave quite content with the experience, impressed with the speakers and amount of information shared. It’s about the extra degree that will take the experience from being a great one to being an exceptional one people cannot stop raving about.

In a lot of cases the people attending a conference are highly intelligent, well informed individuals in the subject area of the conference. That being said they are capable of more than simply absorbing additional material. Provide them time to contemplate and discuss the material with other guests. Offer them chances to meet new people, discuss new things, to have some extra fun.

A packed schedule, with top notch speakers can be a great thing. A packed schedule, with top notch speakers, where people have time to connect share and play can be something to rave about.

Take a moment to check out the blog that sparked this one. 
A conference misses the mark ... again

Would you like more ‘white space’ when you go to a conference? Do you get enough time to connect with old friends or make new ones?  Do you get a chance to share your thoughts, share ideas, share stories? Most importantly do you, in the moment, get to enjoy yourself? Or is your feeling of enjoyment left to be discovered in retrospect after the conference?


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